Drug driving suit mimics taking the wheel stoned

A simulation suit that mimics the effects on wearer's reactions of taking illegal substances has been developed by scientists to show young drivers the dangers of getting behind the wheel while intoxicated by drugs.Scientists from the Meyer-Hentschel Institute in Germany, in conjunction with Ford Motor Company, created the suit to simulate some of the effects of drugs, such as cannabis, cocaine, heroin, and MDMA (Ecstasy); in particular slower reaction time, distorted vision, hand tremors and poor co-ordination.A kinetic device in the suit's gloves produces a tremor akin to that caused by some illicit drugs. Random flashing lights in the goggles' peripheral area, allied to hallucinogenic-type sounds in the headphones, combine to disorientate drivers. In tests even professional drivers were badly affected, failing to perform simple tasks such as driving in between cones."The suit's made of a number of different elements," Ford vehicle safety manager Paul Fay told Reuters. "So there are pads that go on the elbows and knees, which stiffen the joint and slow down reaction times. In addition to that there are large heavy weights placed on the ankles and wrists. These have a big effect on co-ordination and balance. On one hand there's a device that produces a tremor and affects motor skills, and the key thing is the addition of the goggles which produce tunnel vision, with visual distortions, and random flashing lights, and finally headphones which provide audible disturbances with random noises which are very distracting when you are trying to drive.""We start with very heavy ankle weight, then you've got knee padding, knee restraints, restricting movement," added Ford spokesperson Charlotte Ward. "We've then got two wrist weights, elbow restrictions, the tremor glove, neck brace to again restrict movement, the goggles which distort the vision and with the flashing lights can help create this kind of tunnel vision effects and then we've got the headphones playing this sort of horrible noise." The experience will be incorporated into Ford Driving Skills for Life DSFL), the automakers' young driver program that provides training to people around the world through hands-on and online tuition. Young drivers will be given the opportunity to wear the suit while driving on a closed course. "The suit is designed not to produce the sensation of being on drugs, but to reproduce the side effects which may have a dangerous effect on your driving," said Fay.The suit is a variation on the Drink Driving Suit that the automakers incorporated into their training last year.Fay said the company wants to provide hands-on education to young people about the effects of driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol, even when they might believe they feel fine. "A lot of the skills that they need for driving - co-ordination, good eyesight, good visual acuity, being able to be free from the distractions of things that are happening on the road to be able to operate and control the vehicle. All of those deteriorate, response times are slower, co-ordination is poorer," he said.A 2013 survey by the US's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that around 18 percent of the country's motor vehicle driver deaths involved non-alcoholic drugs other than alcohol. Their study showed that 22 percent of drivers tested positive for drugs that impair driving. Fay says it is too early to draw major conclusions from the success of the suit in changing young people's perceptions, as the project has only just been launched, but said those who have tried it out for themselves were "all surprised. Obviously it's been launched as part of Driving Skills for Life program, so we haven't a huge amount of experience with it but I think everyone who puts it on says I didn't expect the effects to be so marked and I guess when you take the suit out of context of people actually being high on drugs and saying this is the effects it would have, if they were taking drugs they may not notice that their performance was being affected in this way, so it's a real eye opener for them that this could seriously affect what they're doing and how they're driving." Ford works alongside leading safety organizations in 11 European countries, including France, Germany, Spain, and Russia. In addition to its range of driving suits, Ford has also developed training that highlights the dangers of social media activity at the wheel.

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3D printer for kids looks like a helmet, cheaper than an iPhone

While popular among designers, the commercial 3D printer space has, so far, failed to capture much mainstream attention and instead seems to occupy a distinctly tech and academic niche. But one project hopes to change all that by introducing 3D printing to an entirely new, mostly untapped market for the technology: kids. The Rever 3D printer touts itself as an affordable and easy-to-use 3D printer for children looking to craft their own toys and harness their imaginations. See also: World's first 3D-printed car could cost you $53,000 Aesthetically, the small 3D printer starts in the right place by looking like a space helmet instead of a complicated, high-tech device or an oversimplified toy. But the design, which is fronted by a translucent visor–style cover, has a specific purpose — safety. When the device is printing an object, the see-through door remains closed, preventing a curious child from poking their hand in. And when the printing is finished and the door opens, the 3D printer nozzle is locked away in an area away from the probing fingers of a child. Image: qubeaNevertheless, even with those safety measures in place, putting a working 3D printer in the hands of a child still seems early at this stage of the technology's mainstream adoption. The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment on this particular point. Aside from that, the device, which comes in white, blue, red and yellow, appears to easily print objects like any other 3D printer. In the demonstration video we're shown everything from Lego-style blocks that can be printed and fitted together to make toys, to bracelets and other trinkets. And while the Rever looks like a great idea, we have to take a moment to mention the video. In it, two girls and a boy are shown using the device to create objects. But what stands out is the old school gender-typing of each child. The boy is shown using the device to create objects to become a super hero, and is later shown playing with a 3D-printed plane. The two girls are shown using the device to craft jewelry and high-heeled shoes. Although the commercial appears well-intentioned, it seems odd to pigeonhole young girls with such stereotypes in 2015, especially when it comes to promoting a technology product. Marketing aside, the device appears to be gaining steam on Kickstarter, having already garnered nearly $30,000 of its $120,000 goal with nearly a month left in the campaign. The device, which will sell for $399 at retail, is currently available for as low as $229 and will reach backers next June. Have something to add to this story? Share it in the comments.

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GameStop's warning on EA's Star Wars game seen premature

Electronic Arts Inc (EA.O) has little to fear from retailer GameStop Corp's (GME.N) warning about weak sales for EA's just-released "Star Wars" title, with analysts agreeing it was too early to predict its success or failure.The videogame publisher's shares fell as much as 7 percent on Monday after GameStop said its sales of "Star Wars: Battlefront" were weaker than anticipated.Analysts and one top investor in EA said it was premature to conclude that the warning was a sign of weak demand.The comments from GameStop, the world's largest videogame retailer, do not reflect digital videogame sales and come days before Black Friday, traditionally the biggest shopping day in the United States.GameStop's warning is "really being driven by an acceleration of digital downloads," Cowen & Co analysts said."It's too early to sound any alarm bells," said Christopher Merwin, an analyst at Barclays. "The success of 'Star Wars Battlefront' will be largely dictated by how it does digitally." The videogame industry has been shifting to distributing games digitally in recent years, with increasing bandwidth and easier access on consoles allowing players to download their favorite titles, rather than purchase physical copies.Digital, a higher-margin business, has been growing steadily, and comprised nearly 52 percent of EA's revenue for the year ended March 31.Matt Titus, a shareholder in EA and a portfolio manager at American Century Investment Management, termed Monday's stock move an "over-reaction," adding that the Star Wars title had "some of the strongest pre-orders in the history of gaming." American Century is EA's eighth biggest shareholder, with a 3.03 percent stake, according to Thomson Reuters data.An Electronic Arts spokesman declined to comment on early sales of the title or on GameStop's remarks.EA last month raised its forecast for sales of "Star Wars: Battlefront" to 13 million units for the year ending March 2016, up from its earlier estimate of 9 million to 10 million. The title launched on Nov. 17, a month ahead of Walt Disney's (DIS.N) release of "Star Wars: The Force Awakens," the latest installment in George Lucas' space opera franchise.The game is expected to be a popular gift over the holidays for kids, adult Star Wars fans and gamers alike."I have a 7-year-old, she's probably going to play the game, my neighbor's kids are playing the game ... none of them have ever seen a Star Wars movie and they all want to play the game," Titus said. (Reporting by Sai Sachin R and Anya George Tharakan in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D'Silva and Leslie Adler)

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Scientists on quest for friction-free oil

Scientists from BP are applying molecular science in their laboratories to make the perfect oil blend to reduce engine friction and increase efficiency.According to the company, friction caused by various metal-to-metal contact points is a major problem for car engines; costing the UK economy an estimated 24 billion pounds (36.2 billion USD) each year through lost efficiency and damage through wear and tear. The only barrier between the high-force contacts of engine surfaces is a thin layer of lubricant, but they are coming under increasing pressure from modern engines.At BP's facility in Berkshire, west of London, scientists and engineers are working to create lubricants that operate inside the latest motor engines, while improving the performance and efficiency of vehicles already on the market. "Engine oil is like the blood of the engine. It touches every part of the engine, it has many jobs to do and it has to keep that engine running efficiently by keeping things clean, keeping metal surfaces apart and reducing friction," explained development technologist, Simon Gurney, at BP's Technology Centre. The pressure inside modern engines also increases the need for effective fuels and lubricants. The Bugatti Veyron supercar, for example, had an engine pressure of 18 bar when it launched in 2005. Today a standard Ford Fiesta can run a similar pressure.Gurney said the increasing brake mean effective pressure (BMEP) -- the pressure within an engine -- has put bigger demands on an oil's performance."In an engine it's full of metal parts; the oil's primary job is to keep those metal parts apart from one another. So it has to be really strong under these high pressure environments. Now, an engine maybe 20 years ago was maybe making 10 bar of pressure, today; 20 bar. So engine pressures have doubled," he said. Using a state-of-the-art scanning electron microscope, the scientists at BP can see the damage caused by friction and fuel breakdown forming deposits on engines at a nano-level. It's their job to experiment with hundreds of thousands of oil compounds that could reduce this effect, according to analytical expert Tom Lynch."Our task is to find that needle in a haystack that makes that big difference in an improvement of the performance of our oil. And so we strive, using these high end analytical pieces of equipment to be able to understand what each molecule does and what its role is in our lubricant. And we try and tune these molecules to be the best at that job," Lynch told Reuters, adding that they use a mass spectrometer to test molecular formulas 24-hours-a-day at temperatures of up to 6000 degrees Celsius. Once they've established a viable formula, the oils are transferred to the BP Blend Shop to be produced on a larger scale that could eventually be replicated around the world."The demands of modern engines and modern hardware mean that the complexity of our formulations is increasing. We have to experiment with various different materials and determine the best blending methods so they can be replicated globally," said Christopher Rolfe, team leader for blending operations. "Once the formulation has been sent over from the laboratory, we would then take that formulation and work out how to blend it. The blending methods here get replicated globally, so the understanding of the hardware and the engines that takes place in the laboratory, is then transferred into real-world applications in the blend shop here," he added.The team concedes that industry moves toward more hybrid engines may present new challenges. But BP says the potential for greater efficiency and CO2 reduction is significant. It's their aim to concoct oil and lubricants that will help today's engines be as environmentally friendly as possible; with the war on friction a key factor in achieving this goal.

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More than half of Amazon tree species seen at risk of extinction

WASHINGTON South America's vast Amazon region harbors one of the world's most diverse collection of tree species, but more than half may be at risk for extinction due to ongoing deforestation to clear land for farming, ranching and other purposes, scientists say.Researchers said on Friday that if recent trends continued, between 36 and 57 percent of the estimated 15,000 Amazonian tree species likely would qualify as threatened with extinction under criteria used by the group that makes such determinations, the International Union for Conservation of Nature.The study covered roughly 2.1 million square miles (5.5 million square km) spanning Brazil, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana. The researchers analyzed Amazonian forest surveys and data on current and projected deforestation areas."Many of the species that we suggest may be threatened areused by Amazonian residents on a daily basis, and many othersare crucial to Amazonian economies," conservation ecologist Nigel Pitman of the Field Museum in Chicago.These range from wild populations of economically important food crops like the Brazil nut, açaí fruit and heart of palm, to valuable timber species, to several hundred species that Amazonian residents depend upon for fruits, seeds, thatch, medicines, latex and essential oils, Pitman said.The trees also are important in their ecosystems for erosion control and climate moderation, Pitman said. "Scientists have been raising the alarm about Amazonian deforestation for several decades, and projections indicate that forest loss will continue for the foreseeable future," said forest ecologist Hans ter Steege of the Naturalis Biodiversity Center in the Netherlands."The good news is that over the last 10 years the rate of forest loss in the Amazon has dropped dramatically."Amazonian forests have been shrinking since the 1950s as people cut and burn areas for farming, ranching and development. Until now, there has been no reliable estimate of how many tree species were threatened with extinction. "Yes, the threats are daunting, but it's important to remember that more than 85 percent of forests in the greater Amazon are still standing," Pitman said.The researchers said Amazon parks, reserves and indigenous territories, if managed well, should be able to protect most of the threatened species. Previous research found Amazon forests already have dwindled by about 12 percent and will decline up to another 28 percent by 2050. The research was published in the journal Science Advances. (Reporting by Will Dunham; Editing by Sandra Maler)

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